I was involved in a personal injury claim of my own when I was a child and I just remember being quite confused but intrigued by the whole process. But this wasn’t when I decided to study law; in fact for most of my teenage years, I wanted to study medicine.
In Year 13, I had chosen to continue Biology, Maths and History to A2 (the second year of A levels) and I was really interested in analysing history and politics and formulating arguments.
I still wasn’t sure what to study a few weeks into Year 13 when it randomly dawned on me to study Law (I call it my Eureka moment as I had made the decision in the shower). It may have been a snap decision, but it was definitely the right one. I obtained an offer at Queen Mary to study law and started my degree in 2008.
Once I graduated in 2011, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to be a solicitor or barrister and enjoyed studying so much that I decided to stay on at Queen Mary and study an LLM in Medical Law. This was fascinating as it combined my interests of medicine and law.
After graduating from my LLM, I obtained work experience in sales and marketing before deciding to commence my LPC in 2014. I particularly enjoyed civil litigation and advocacy.
After completing my LPC in 2015, I still was not able to secure my first legal role so I obtained further work experience in administration, customer care, recruitment and sales.
Finally, in February 2018, I secured my first role as Litigation and Personal Injury Paralegal at Saracens Solicitors. I felt so lucky that my first role, after years of trying, was actually in the two fields of law I was most interested in. Then, in August 2019, I was offered and commenced my training contract at Saracens.
I am now 2 months away from qualifying and hope to continue practising in Litigation and Personal Injury at Saracens once I qualify.Has mental illness (anxiety and depression) affected your studies / career in any way?
Anxiety has most likely been with me since the age of 15 so I think it did affect my studies and career. I was always very hard on myself whilst studying to the point I would really stress myself out and not sleep. Later on, when I would get knocked back when applying for my first legal role, it would really affect me and I would decide that I was not good enough to practise law so I would give up on my dream career for a bit. And then a few months later I would realise that it was the career for me and try again.
I was only diagnosed with anxiety and depression in November 2019, 3 months into my training contract. The anxiety and depression has definitely been a large part of my experience as a trainee. I have felt overwhelmed, I have burst into tears in the office, I have had sleepless nights and I have suffered burnout. But now I am more comfortable talking about my mental wellbeing. I am able to speak honestly and openly at work when I feel overwhelmed or if I'm not feeling mentally well. Being able to speak so honestly about my mental wellbeing will hopefully ensure I do not suffer burnout again.What would you say to people who have mental illness and are unsure about whether or not to pursue a law degree/legal career?
Some people would call those who suffer with mental illness weak and not fit to be a lawyer. I have been called that, and that is absolutely not true. In fact there are certain aspects of my anxiety that make me a better lawyer, I have great attention to detail, I am hard-working, I am empathetic. The key is to get the help you need and develop a routine to look after your mental wellbeing so you do not get to the stage where you are overwhelmed and burned out. I would also recommend being honest with those around you about your mental health; if you are struggling, tell someone.What advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your journey?
Look after your mental wellbeing. It is as important, if not more so, as physical health. Also, do not doubt yourself. If you are passionate about a career in Law, you will get there and it doesn't matter how long it takes because you might learn a lot along the way.